Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sapa. In the clouds.

We arrived on the overnight train from Hanoi, bleary eyed and tired, to a pre-dawn and foggy Lao Cai. We found two spots on one of the many mini buses headed to Sapa, and over the next hour as we wound up the mountain roads higher and higher, the sky brightened, but the fog, or clouds, got thicker. To the point where when we arrived in Sapa, we could barely see the other side of the street. And people were right, it was cold in Sapa. Much colder than Hanoi (I pretty much wore all of my clothes for the following three days). Had a quick breakfast at the hotel, and then crashed in our room (which didn’t have heat, but did have an electric blanket!) for a good nap.

The wall of white was still there to greet us when we got up, but we decided to go for a hike anyway. There are many minority villages within hiking distance of Sapa, so we set off for the H’mong village of Cat Cat. As the road switch-backed down into the valley, lush green slopes and terraced rice fields were slowly revealed as we got below the clouds. Walking through the village you could see how they managed the water flow through a series of bamboo conduits and aqueducts, to channel it to the rice terraces and also water-powered grain pounders.

When we got to the bottom of the valley we saw a magnificent waterfall, and unexpectedly saw a bit of a cockfight that was happening on the shore upstream. As we passed I noticed, that between matches, each guy took his rooster off to the side and gently poured water over their heads, the same way a boxer’s coach might. It was a surprisingly tender moment amid a generally grotesque scene.

On the steep path leading back to the village, we had many moto-ride offers, but we turned them all down to hoof it all the way back up, back into the clouds.

Glorious mountain view, incognito...

Cloudy Sapa

Chicken dyed with indigo.

Starting to get below the clouds and finding a magical landscape beneath.



  1. haha did you mean to have us comparing Mark to the root carving? (comparing picture 10 to 11)

    thanks for the adventures! hope you are doing well!

    1. Hahaha, no, that's just a happy coincidence! But I think Mark's well on his way to having a good root beard. :)

      Thanks for all the comments! We're doing well, and I hope you are too! xo

  2. what amazing terraces!
    What were those creatures walking single file along the edge of the paddy?

    Also....looking good with that beard Mark!

    1. Pigs! There's pigs and piglets running around everywhere!

  3. The blue chicken is quite odd, but I am loving those hilly ledges!


    1. Indeed... I'm curious if the indigo dye gives it a different flavour?